Airman revamps F-16 munitions tracking, wins top award

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jensen Stidham
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Sitting in his newly acquired office after only three days as an assistant first sergeant, his commander walks in the door to congratulate him on a career changing award.

Tech. Sgt. Robert Kurz, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron assistant first sergeant, received the Air Force level Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award for outstanding Technician Supervisor Munitions Missile Maintenance for 2014.

"In the maintenance career field it's like winning an Oscar," said Kurz. "I was happy just winning for the squadron but finding out I won at the Air Force level, I was floored."

Though the Tech. Sgt. knew his job proficiently, he had never had the opportunity to make an impact that could change the 20th EMS and possibly equipment maintenance across the Air Force.

"All of this happened because I was put in a position to make a difference," said Kurz. "I was put into the alternative mission equipment section during a time it needed to be changed. I started to notice some things that had been overlooked for a while and I just started implementing changes."

After his analysis of a 10-year inspection history, Kurz was able to detect an aircraft structure time-change discrepancy that affected the gun system on the entire F-16 fleet across the Air Force.

"According to AFIs certain things needed to be tracked but there was nothing in place to do that," said Kurz. "Once I discovered the issue it was all about compliance, just doing what needed to be done."

Many of the changes Kurz made to accommodate minimal manning and save money within the 20th EMS are being reviewed at the Air Force level for widespread distribution.

"He was swift to identify program and process failures then find legitimate corrective actions," said Senior Master Sgt. Richard Pelletier, 20th EMS superintendent. "He had to account for 2,400 pieces of equipment valued at 122 million dollars, track down their history, and realign inspection cycles all while closing the loop on the errors left unreconciled from the previous two years."

Along with his hard work produced from the 20th Fighter Wing, he also proved his leadership during a deployment.

"I was appointed the armament flight chief and had to fill roles and perform duties that I hadn't done before," said Kurz. "While we were there we established an armament shop from the ground up that supported more than 1,200 combat sorties."

Though Kurz' actions are changing the equipment maintenance squadrons downrange and across the Air Force, he plans to change more than that.

"I would like to become a full time first sergeant," said Kurz. "I really like to work on equipment, I am a mechanic and that is one of my hobbies but I really feel I can benefit the Air Force by making a connection with people."

As he hears all of the congratulatory comments and praise, Kurz stays motivated to improve himself and fellow Airmen.